Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sanibel Sunday: October 17, 2021

It's a sunny Sunday morning in Florida... I'm back from my walk, sipping my second cup of coffee, and anticipating a low-key day. We've spent a lot of time with my BIL and his family over the past week. It had been almost two years since we'd seen the nephews, so we've enjoyed catching up with their lives and careers. Tonight we'll have one more dinner together before they head home tomorrow.

Current reading//

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

I'm nearing the end of this nearly 600-page novel and loving it! Franzen is such a talented writer and his latest novel is the first of a planned trilogy. I'm definitely down for the next two... and already hoping the wait won't be too long.

On the blog//

In the kitchen//

The winner in the kitchen last week was Abruzzo Summer Minestrone from the Food Network. It calls for a variety of summer veggies, but I'm sure you could use whatever you have on hand. The only substitution I made was baby spinach for the Swiss chard, and I added it at the end as the soup was removed from the heat. The recipe calls for 16 oz. tomato and sausage pasta sauce. I used the entire jar of Classico with sausage - delicious!

There were some beautiful Honeycrisp apples at the store last week, so I made our favorite Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake. I've shared this recipe before, but it's worth mentioning again... a fall classic around here!


I don't remember who mentioned The Chair recently, but we watched the six-episode first season on Netflix and enjoyed it quite a bit. Sandra Oh stars as the newly-appointed (and first female) chair of the English Department at Pembroke University. I'm hoping for a second season.

Later today//
After finishing this post, I'll peruse the newspapers, catch up on blog reading, and spend some more time with Jonathan Franzen. Later this afternoon we'll have my BIL and SIL over for dinner. If I get ambitious, I may even bake something for dessert.

How was your week? What have you been reading lately?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Nonfiction November is Almost Here!

Good news, fellow readers... Nonfiction November starts in just a couple of weeks! This year there are five hosts and five weeks of blog prompts:

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be/Ask/Become the Expert with Veronica at The Thousand Book Project: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at The OC Book Girl: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! 

I love this event and have participated for years. This week I'm starting to get my book list together... and have already found that there are way too many choices! One thing I've always appreciated about Nonfiction November is that you can participate at whatever level your schedule allows, one week or all five. Nonfiction reviews can be posted at any time and linked with current week's host. 

Do you ever read nonfiction? Will you be participating in Nonfiction November?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sanibel Sunday: October 10, 2021

Hello from sunny Florida! We are finally unpacked and organized, and we have a schedule for finishing the downstairs renovation. That's definitely progress. We made time to watch a couple of gorgeous sunsets on the beach, and enjoyed a meal on the patio of a favorite restaurant.

I also managed to finish two books. Both were short, but they provided some much-needed reading momentum. Overall, a good week.

Recent Reading//

Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley
narrated by Nadia May

This old-fashioned, feel-good story will be appreciated by book lovers everywhere! Written in 1917, the publisher's brief summary says it all: 

Parnassus on Wheels is the story of a marvelous man, small in stature, wiry as a cat, yet Olympic in personality. Roger Mifflin is part pixie, part sage, part noble savage, and all God's creature. With his traveling book wagon, named Parnassus, he moves through the New England countryside of 1915 on an itinerant mission of enlightenment. Mifflin's delight in books and authors (if not publishers) is infectious. With his singular philosophy and bright eyes, he comes to represent the heart and soul of the book world.

A roaring good adventure yarn spiced with fiery roadside brawls, ...heroic escapes from death, and a rare love story, Roger Mifflin's story shows how bookselling can be one of the world's highest callings: dispelling ignorance while causing constant delight.

The audio is only 3 1/2 hours and is included free with an audible plus membership. I found it to be a truly delightful listen and was pleased to learn it is part of a two-book series. The Haunted Bookshop is now on my list.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

The second book in the" Elderly Lady" series was released last week and it was so good to catch up with Maud, the 88-year-old serial killer! Again, the book is small-scale hardback consisting of several short stories. It opens with Maud embarking on a grand trip. The first few stories are memories, or Maud's musings, while the last two are longer and occur in the present. I loved reading about how Maud chooses to structure her golden years, but think you really need to read the first book, An Elderly Lady is Up To No Good, to fully appreciate this one. I'm hoping for a third book soon.

Current Reading//

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

The library came through! I was able to borrow this book the day it released and yesterday the audio version arrived via Overdrive. This is classic Franzen... the writing is just so good, the characters are the real thing. They are people from our hometowns; we probably knew them in high school. I can't wait to read more. And the audio version narrated by David Pittu is a pleasure to listen to on my morning walks, too. 

A Question//   

Have you seen anything about Nonfiction November? Is it happening this year? I haven't been around much lately and may have missed the announcement. I love that event!

Sunday Evening Update: Deb from Readerbuzz  sent a message to one of the hosts of Nonfiction November, Rennie of What's Nonfiction, asking about this year's event. Here is her reply:

Thanks for reaching out!

We’re a little late in getting an announcement out this year because some new hosts were being brought on board and took a bit more planning. But it’s happening :) and good timing - check back at my blog for the announcement tomorrow. Happy to hear people are already looking forward to it!

In the kitchen// 

It's great to be back in my own kitchen again! I  haven't been able to do this section of my weekly post for a while and it feels like I accumulated a lot  of new recipes over the summer. Now the trick is to try them all! 

First up was this Maple Brown Sugar Baked Oatmeal from Greens & Chocolate. It's much lower in sugar than another recipe I tried and tastes so good... try it topped with raspberries and a splash of skim milk. 

It's still pasta salad season in Florida and this Pesto Pasta Caprese is filled with flavors I love. I couldn't find the recipe online, so here is a photo of it instead. 

For main dishes, these two seafood recipes turned out really well. The Grilled Swordfish with a delicious lemon and herb marinade (from Katie Workman) was spiced up with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. We also enjoyed Skinnytaste's Asian Farro Medley with Salmon, but the next time I will dial back the sambal chili paste. This was the first time I''ve used sambal oelek and probably should have tried some first... very spicy! 

The week ahead// 

My BIL and his family have flown in for the week and are staying at the condo. They'll be spending some time with my FIL, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of them, too. Work will hopefully resume on our downstairs renovation. There isn't much more to do, but we will need that space for the holidays. And, of course, I'll continue to work my way through's long, but so good!

That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

What Happened to September??


It's Sunday, October 3... What happened to September?? It certainly got away from me. We returned to Florida early due to my FIL's health concerns but, thankfully, things are stable again. While in NY, we celebrated my mother's birthday and were able to catch up with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, my hair appointment was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak at the salon (so glad I was scheduled after  the discovery!) and I decided against a mani/pedi, too. I'm growing increasingly frustrated with this lingering pandemic, especially since there are such effective measures to prevent the spread.

It probably goes without saying that September was not a great reading month for me. Once we left CT, my reading time evaporated. I only managed to read two books all month.

September Reading//

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It's been nearly twenty years since I last read this classic and RIP seemed like a good opportunity to pick it up again. I decided to make it a  read/listen combination this time around and chose the audio version narrated by Thandiwe Newton. While the plot basics stayed with me over the years, many of the finer details had been forgotten. I enjoyed rediscovering several elements of the story, and adding audio to the mix definitely enhanced my overall experience.

Also in September, Novel Pairings podcast offered a two-part discussion which helped me think about the novel from a fresh perspective. It felt like true Jane Eyre  immersion last month... and I loved it! 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

After enjoying Lucy Foley's The Guest List  last summer, I wanted to read  something from her backlist for RIP.  In The Hunting Party,  a group of college friends, now in their 30s, travels to a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate the New Year. Unfortunately, someone turns up dead. The story is told from alternating perspectives and the reader doesn't even learn who is dead until well into the second half of the book. Toward the end, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I enjoyed this book even more than The Guest List  and look forward to the author's next novel coming sometime in 2022.

Current Listening//

by Christopher Morley, narrated by Nadia May

Another classic, this bookish novel is short, humorous, and the audio is included in my audible plus membership. I'll finish it on my walk tomorrow morning.

Current Reading//

I'll start something in print tomorrow... hopefully one of the new releases I'm dying to get my hands on.

October Reading Possibilities//

A slew of new novels by favorite authors will be released this month. We'll see how I do with library holds, but I'm sure there will at least one trip to the bookstore this month! 

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten  (10/5)
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (10/5)
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (10/19)

The Week Ahead//

Today my SIL is coming over for dinner and tomorrow we have appointments for flu shots. There's still a little more unpacking and organizing left... and a lot of yard work to do, but I'm looking forward to more reading and blogging time ahead. 

How was your September? What was your favorite book of the month?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Our Time in CT Winds Down

Mystic Seaport, Mystic CT

It's Sunday again and this is my last update from Connecticut. How is it that we've been here for two month and it feels more like two weeks?? We've enjoyed time with our daughters, reuniting with old friends, walks along the shoreline, exploring the towns around us, reading and relaxing on the porches, and eating more than a few lobster rolls. We already want to come back next summer!

My reading, unfortunately, has been slow this month. Numerous distractions plus too many days spent on a book I wasn't completely invested in are behind that. The book in question, Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau, is not  a bad book, just a case of bad timing. I finally set it aside around the 40% mark with plans to pick it up again later. 

Current reading//

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The combination of Novel Pairings two-part podcast discussion and RIP made this seem like the perfect time to revisit this book. My favorite approach to classics lately is a read/listen combination and Thandiwe Newton's audiobook narration is adding to the overall experience. Just past the halfway mark, I'm enjoying the journey... but somehow forgot the book is nearly 600 pages long!


The week ahead//
...probably won't be too exciting. Main events include cleaning, organizing, packing, maybe a pedicure, and driving to central NY. Next weekend is my mother's birthday!

That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

August Wrap-Up and September Reading Plans

Labor Day weekend... the end of "meteorological" summer. It's getting dark a little earlier  and the evening air has a chill. I haven't seen any changing leaves here in southern CT, but it's certainly started in central New York. Where did the summer go? 

In August...

We had several visits from our NYC daughters, caught up with old CT  friends, explored the historic town of Essex, and (thanks to Henri) even spent a few days in NY with my parents. In spite of all that, I still managed to finish five books. BUT one was a play and one was an extended short story, so not very impressive on the reading front.

My favorite August book:

September Reading Possibilities//

In September...
We will leave our CT rental mid-month, spend at least a couple of weeks with my parents, then decide when it might be safe to return to Florida.

How was your August? What was your favorite book of the month?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

It's September and RIP is Here!


It's September and you know what that means... RIP is back! Now in its 16th year,  RIP - Readers Imbibing Peril - has a home at @perilreaders on Instagram and twitter. The event, which runs through Halloween, encourages readers everywhere to enjoy: 

  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Gothic
  • Horror
  • Supernatural

Visit @perilreaders to check out various challenges and information on this year's group read.


I'm not a big mystery reader, I definitely don't read horror, and have never gotten into fantasy either, but there are still plenty of books on my RIP tbr. These are the ones I hope to read this year:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (reread)

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (audio)

 An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten (release date 10/5)

Are you participating in RIP this year?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Back to Connecticut

Hello again from Connecticut! After last weekend's evacuation from hurricane/tropical storm Henri, we returned midweek to find things pretty much as we left them. The area received quite a bit of wind and rain but, fortunately, never lost power. We enjoyed our visit with my parents, spent some time with my siblings, and got caught up on the latest central NY happenings. I also finished the book I was reading and read an extended short story.

 Recent reading//

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

This family story made for a satisfying summer read. I enjoyed the characters, their relationships to one another, the family dynamics, and, of course, the secrets. There was nothing too graphic, heavy, or traumatic. (I can't handle another Paper Palace  just yet.) Enjoyable and entertaining, I was comfortable passing this one along to my mother. She's loving it. 

The Sixth Wedding by Elin Hilderbrand

This extended short story (approximately 80 pages) is a sequel to Hilderbrand's novel, 28 Summers. It takes place a couple of years after that 28th summer. Basically it's a check-in  with the main characters, or a "where are they now?" follow up. It was fine, but nothing special. I'm being generous with a three-star rating. 

Current reading//

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

I'm about 20% into this coming-of-age story set in 1970s Baltimore. It's wonderful so far!

Later today I'll pick out my next audiobook. I'm leaning toward  nonfiction... possibly The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. Have you read this one? 

On the blog//

Book Brief: The Street by Ann Petry

That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Book Brief: The Street by Ann Petry

The Street
by Ann Petry

The Street, originally published in 1946, is a lesser-known classic of the Harlem Renaissance. I'd never heard of it until Now Read This (the PBS News Hour book club) selected it as their May 2020 read. It's also the first novel written by a black American woman to sell more than a million copies. 

The main character is Lutie Johnson, a beautiful, young, black single mother. The story, set in Harlem, revolves around Lutie's daily struggles and frustrations as she strives to make a better life for herself and her son... while trying to protect them both from the dangers of "the street." 

I never got to this book in 2020, but knew I would eventually. This summer we are renting a house in Old Saybrook, CT. While researching the town, I found Ann Petry listed among notable residents. Petry's father, a pharmacist, opened the first pharmacy is Old Saybrook. Ann also became a pharmacist. In 1938 Petry left Old Saybrook to pursue a literary career in New York, published her novel in 1946, and, in an effort to shun publicity, returned to Old Saybrook in 1947. 

As many of you know, I am a retired hospital pharmacist so that connection, along with the location, made this the perfect time to finally read the book.

Even though The Street  was written in 1946, it has a surprisingly contemporary feel. The challenges Lutie  faces, especially the overt racism, seem insurmountable. As a result, a sense of frustration and hopelessness pervades the work. There is also anger. In fact, I've never read a novel that expresses anger at white people so directly. It's not surprising that this book hasn't been widely read over the years... perhaps it should be.

  but inching closer to 5 stars as I continue to think about it

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Stormy Weather


Suddenly it's late August and we're back in central New York, at least temporarily... thanks to Hurricane/ Tropical Storm Henri. We watched as tropical storm warnings turned into hurricane warnings. Prolonged power outages seem to be a foregone conclusion (all the neighbors have generators) regardless of the ultimate storm track or intensity. Then the town issued a voluntary evacuation order. Since the house we are renting is on a narrow peninsula, we decided this might be a good time to visit my parents. We got here late yesterday evening and plan to stay until power is restored.

On to the books...

Recent reading//

The Street by Ann Petry

I really loved this lesser-known classic of the Harlem Renaissance and am so glad I chose to read it in the author's hometown of  Old Saybrook, CT. Look for a review post later this week.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tenessee Williams

I listened to this classic play, available free for audible plus members. It must have been assigned reading at some point, but I had very little recollection of the story. The program is a live recording of a production from the Williamstown Theater Festival. While I enjoyed it, I felt like I was missing something. If I had been reading  the play, the stage directions would have added to my overall understanding. By listening, I missed everything I would have seen  had I been watching the production. Sigh.

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

I was planning to listen to this novel but, after purchasing it from audible, I discovered the audio production was abridged - very disappointing! Thankfully audible has excellent customer service and quickly refunded the charge to my credit card. My library had the ebook available and I reread the first "story" to see what I missed and continued happily to the end. 

The Women of Brewster Place, published in 1982, is a novel told in stories. They center around the women who live in the eponymous housing project and their struggles of daily life. It's a touching and beautifully written book. Oprah Winfrey produced a television miniseries in 1989, which I don't recall watching at the time. I plan to now.

Earlier this year I listened to a short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, which now feels like an homage to this work by Gloria Naylor.

Current reading//

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

My daughter brought me her copy of this book last weekend and, since I already had the audio version, it's currently a read/listen combo. Just over a third in and I am enjoying this family drama so far.

The week ahead//

It's full of uncertainty. As I type, Henri has made landfall just over the border in Rhode Island. There are reports of power outages in the area where we were staying, but we haven't heard from the neighbors yet. For now we stay put until we know there is power...

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


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